01/05/2002 1:00AM

Serazzo drops from stakes ranks


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer John Kimmel hopes a drop in class and the climate of south Florida will translate into a victory for Serazzo, who heads a 10-horse field entered in a nine-furlong classified allowance turf race Monday at Gulfstream Park.

Since winning a third-level allowance race at Keeneland in April, Serazzo has competed in three consecutive stakes without success. He finished last in the Grade 3 Elkhorn, fifth in the Sycamore, and eighth in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap. He was beaten only four lengths in the Red Smith.

After the Red Smith, Kimmel shipped Serazzo to Payson Park where, just like last year, he has flourished in the mornings. Last year, Serazzo kicked off his season with a victory in a second-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park at nine furlongs.

"I think the horse is training really well here," Kimmel said. "He won here going a mile and an eighth; we hope that perhaps he'll be able to run a little better than the Red Smith. I think he's just doing better in general."

John Velazquez will ride Serazzo.

The horse to beat could be The Knight Sky, from the barn of Chuck Simon. A son of Sky Classic, The Knight Sky is coming off a victory in a fourth-level allowance race at Churchill on Nov. 1 and has run second twice over Gulfstream Park's turf course. Jerry Bailey rides from post 2.

Stokosky has had most of his success in south Florida, having won the Grade 3 Tropical Park Turf Handicap at Calder in December 2000 and having finished third in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap here in February. However, he carries an eight-race losing streak into Monday's feature.

Longshots include Officer's Sword, winner of the Wild Event Stakes at Calder last month, and Warrant, an 8-year-old gelding who comes off a second-place finish in the Da Hoss Stakes at Pimlico.

Rize and Wicklow Highlands were entered in hopes the race comes off the turf.